John Duesbery (Sherwood Foresters) killed on Somme, item 71
- November 1, 2018 09:48:05 Anastasia Ioannou
THE THIEPVAL MEMORIAL
The Thiepval Memorial bears witness to the fact that a high percentage of those who died in the Battle of the Somme have no known grave, many bodies having been lost entirely in the pulverised battlefield,and many others not found until battlefield clearance took place after the war, by which time all trace of identity had disappeared in most cases.
The memorial commemorates 72,085 men who died in the Somme sector up until 20 March, 1918, the eve of the German push back across the battlefield.
Over 90% of the names on the memorial arc of men who died in the battle from July to November 1916. It
includes British and South African soldiers, but those from Australia, Canada, India, Newfoundland and New Zealand with no known grave are commemorated on national memorials at Villers-Bretonneux, Vimy Ridge, Neuve Chapelle, Beaumont-Hamel and Longueval respectively.
In addition to being a Memorial to the Missing, Thiepval
is also a Battle Memorial commemorating the
Anglo-French offensive on the Somme in 1916. Near the summit of the Memorial the following words are
AUX ARMEES FRANÇAISES ET
In further recogniton of the joint nature of the allied endeavours in 1916, an Anglo-French cemetery was laid out in front of the memorial with equal numbers (300 each) of French and British burials.
The Memorial was the largest built by the Commission and stands in its own grounds of 40 acres on a ridge overlooking the battlefield. It is situated a little south of the village of Thiepval, which is about 8 kilometres
north-east of Albert. Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) was invited to design the memorial and in doing so he created
one of the finest buildings of a very distinguished
architectural career. The Memorial takes the form of a massive stepped arrangement of intersecting arches that increase in height and proportionate width and culminate in a central arch 80 feet high.The total structure is 150 feet high. It is clad mainly in brick but its sixteen piers are faced with portland stone on which the names of the dead are engraved. Beneath the dedication to the
French and British Armies are inscribed the simple words: THE MISSING OF THE SOMME
The Memorial was built between 1928 and 1932 and unveiled by the Prince of Wales, in the presence of the President of France, on 31 July 1932. Each year a major ceremony is held there on 1 July.
There are Commonwealth war graves in approximately 240 cemeteries in the 1916 Somme battlefield area,
vary ing in size from Hunter's Cemetery with 46 graves, to
Serre Road Cemeterv No. 2 with 7139. Most of the
smaller ones date from the period of the actual battle but most of the burials in larger cemeteries were made after battlefield clearance operations at the end of the war.
It is not possible to include information on all these cemeteries here, nor to mention the numerous other memorials in the area, nor other evidence of the battle such as mine craters, block houses and preserved trenches. Detailed information on all these subjects may be obtained from the various battlefield guide books that are now available.The locations of all Commonwealth war cemeteries in this area can be found on the specially overprinted editions of Michelin Map number 52 or 53, available from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The following is a selection of mainly the larger cemeteries in the area:
ADANAC MILITARY CEMETERY
was designed by Sir Herbert Baker and contains 3186 graves; 1708 are unidentified. 1071 are of Canadian soldiers. The name Adanac is Canada backwards.
A.I.F. BURIAL GROUND
is named after the Australian Imperial Force, and was begun by Australian troops in November 1916. It was considerably expanded after the end of the war and now has 3640 burials, over half unidentified. The architect was again Sir Herbert Baker.
BEAUMONT-HAMEL (NEWFOUNDL/ ND)
comprises land purchased by the Government of Newfoundland after the war, to create a memorial to the soldiers and sailors of that province. It was at
Beaumount-Hamel on 1 July 1916 that the Newfoundland Regiment fought its first engagement in France - and its costliest of the whole war. It contains a raised mound of granite and clay on which stands a colossal Caribou, the badge of the Regiment, and trees from Newfoundland, together with preserved trenches and dug-outs of 1916. The Memorial has the two characters of a battle memorial, the Caribou, and a record of those men of Newfoundland who fell in the Great War and whose graves are unknown, these being engraved on the cast bronze panels bearing 814 named. Within the Park are also three British Cemeteries, Hawthorn Ridge No.2, "Y" Ravine and Hunter’s, containing 214, 428 and 46 burials respectively.
CATERPILLAR VALLEY CEMETERY
stands on the crest of Longueval Ridge, and the valley after which it was named is in fact over a mile to the south-west. The ground on which it lies was captured by the 12th Royal Scots and 9th Scottish Rifles on 14 July 1916, but the first burials were not made until August 1918 when the ground was won again after being lost during the German spring offensive. The vast majority of the 5569 men buried here died during the 1916 battle, however, and were brought in from battlefield cemeteries and isolated battlefield graves in the surrounding area, and 3796 are unidentified.
A memorial to 1205 New Zealand soldiers who died in September and October 1916 and who have no known grave forms part of the eastern boundary wall. The architect was Sir Herbert Baker.